The Donald Trump Ratings Bump: Who's Benefiting Most?
The GOP frontrunner's Tuesday visit to Stephen Colbert gave his CBS show its best numbers since launch.
Donald Trump, at least for the moment, has declared a moratorium of any appearances on Fox News Channel. Whether that lasts or not, his face won't be a rare sight on TV. On top of aggressive coverage of the GOP's presidential frontrunner, buoyed by two record-shattering debates, Trump has been aggressive in booking appearances across the dial. And the networks are anxious to have him.
His latest sit-down, which aired Tuesday night on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, gave the recently relaunched late-night flagship its best ratings since its Sept. 8 premiere. Stephen Colbert also enjoyed his first audience edge over Tonight's Jimmy Fallon since that first night, bringing in 4.56 million viewers — with an advantage of over 1 million. (The dueling telecasts tied in adults 18-49, each averaging a 1.0 rating.) Early ratings had Colbert up 61 percent from the same night last week. Fellow political guests Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Ted Cruz have not come close to moving the dial as much.
That's just a hair better than Fallon's own performance with Trump. Tonight was ahead of the late-night curve in its booking of the businessman. And its Sept. 11 interview averaged 4.46 million viewers and a 1.2 rating with adults 18-49 — a year best for the often sleepy Friday night.
And Trump is not the only one prompting spikes for Fallon. Monday's Tonight, also aided by strong primetime premieres for NBC, brought a 18-month high for that night thanks to a visit from GOP candidate Carly Fiorina. And, last week, Hillary Clinton stopped by the show to an eight-month ratings high for a Wednesday.
But Trump is is bringing bigger audiences — and with more appearances. The self-proclaimed "ratings machine," who sat down with The Hollywood Reporter for an August cover story, has aided shows in all dayparts. Perhaps his most highly-promoted cable news appearance, in the wake of the first debate, brought Fox News' Sean Hannity a 138 percent jump in the news demographic of adults 25-54. A stop by Bill O'Reilly the following week netted a robust 3.35 million viewers for cable news' most-watched host. And NBC News' Chuck Todd set a personal ratings best back in August when a Trump interview brought in 3.6 million viewers.
As good as all of those numbers are, late-night appears to be where Trump's visits are popping most. And considering both Colbert and Fallon's anxious bookings for politicos so early in the 2016 presidential race, and the viewers' undeniable response, don't be surprised if repeat performances are lined up in the not-too-distant future.